Cy Curnin, lead singer for the beloved and long-running new wave/rock band The Fixx, calls from his home “in sunny California,” though he’ll soon depart for a more wintery climate when he and his bandmates head out on their “FIXXmas Tour” this December, with dates across the Eastern and Midwestern United States (including a stop at Sony Hall in New York on December 14). Besides showcasing their string of hits, Curnin promises that FIXXmas shows will, as the title suggests, include holiday tunes: “We have a few little festive songs that we play. There’s one particular cover that’s very dear to our hearts, it’s a big Christmas song,” though he declines to name which one it is exactly: “I’ll keep it a surprise!”
Curnin says the band’s reasoning behind doing the FIXXmas tour was simple: “It’s the holiday season, so people are in a festive mood. We figured we’d join in the fun,” he says. “We want to really get into the true meaning of what the holidays are and bring out the gratitude, because as a band, we’re very grateful to still be around and to have fans that come out and see us. What better time to express gratitude than the holiday season?”
It’s probably not just the upcoming holiday festivities that have put Curnin in his upbeat mood, though. The Fixx members, it seems, simply like touring in general, so they have done it regularly since the band first formed in London four decades ago. “We really do love it. I think we’re enjoying it more now than we ever did, because of the gratitude, and because we play better than we used to,” Curnin says. “When we were younger, we had bigger audiences, but we weren’t at our best. Musicians do improve and your sense of what life is about and the depth that you can go to increases, because you’ve been alive longer. I think the fans have had more time to grow with the music, where it’s become the soundtrack to their lives. And we can witness how the songs that we wrote 35, 40 years ago still are relevant today, so that’s quite trippy.”
The Fixx certainly have had many songs that will be well familiar to anyone who remembers the eighties. In fact, the band has had more than a dozen songs in the Top 40 charts in the U.S. and around the world. Many of their biggest hits—such as “Saved By Zero,” “One Thing Leads to Another,” “Red Skies,” “Stand Or Fall,” “Are We Ourselves?”, and “Secret Separation,” among others—were in heavy rotation on MTV during that network’s early days. (In addition, Curnin and Fixx guitarist Jamie West-Oram also performed on Tina Turner’s 1984 smash album, Private Dancer.)
But The Fixx were always just a little different from the other bands who emerged around the same time, perhaps because Curnin, as the band’s lyricist, tended to address subjects that were quite a bit more serious and intellectual than the usual song topics. This was especially true when, thanks to the introduction of the video age, many other bands opted to put style over substance. Curnin credits the way that he and his bandmates were raised for inspiring their more cerebral approach.
“You could say it’s the backgrounds that we had—our parents were definitely not just filling us with fluff. My father was very big on proverbs and he spoke very cryptically and enigmatically about things. He would always be asking questions that led to bigger questions and reading us things like Winnie the Pooh when we were kids. Getting those thought patterns as a child led you to muse, and to be whimsical about things. There was that phrase, ‘Never overestimate human intelligence,’ but my dad used to always say, ‘Never underestimate human intelligence when you’re writing.’”
Even though Curnin wrote all the lyrics, he says his bandmates were on board with the things he was writing. “We were all like-minded guys. We’d be discussing events—the suffering [and] the political background or the world crises of the day. That’s what we decided would be in our music, and it was born from that. The early eighties, people look back on with nostalgia, but it was actually coming out of a deep recession, and then all the sudden the first thing that people gravitated [toward] was deregulating credit. So it was easy credit, everybody had credit cards, and that led to, really, more pain—quick pleasure for long-term pain. We were able to feel that, I think. We had discussions about that back then, and that became part of our songwriting. So these songs are like snapshots of the time.”
Curnin says he’s fine with the fact that their more challenging material might have cost the band some fans. “We set off not really wanting to please all the people all the time. We just wanted to express how we felt. Then we started to pick up people who maybe felt the same way, or [it] resonated with them in a certain way, and I think that’s what our fan base is now. It’s really rewarding to hear someone say, ‘Your music has gotten me through some of the harder parts of life,’ and that’s exactly what it’s done for us, too. So it’s a reciprocal thing, which is great.”
It is this communal sense of empathy that Curnin hopes will be particularly in evidence for this upcoming FIXXmas tour because, he says, “When you look at the world that we’re in, it desperately needs a quick shot in the arm of hopefulness and gratitude. We’re all feeling a little down for various reasons. I don’t want to get into the political side of things, but the world makes its own future; we proactively design where we’re going to go. And right now, we’re in a very dark place—so we need a little light in our hearts, to get out of it somehow.”
Looking ahead, Curnin says The Fixx will do another tour in 2020, and he also predicts that the band will likely release another album (it will be their 11th studio album). He says he’s totally fine with the fact that the band’s Top 40 days are seemingly behind them. “In terms of fame, I’m glad we somehow, by dumb luck or stupid decisions, didn’t really go as far up as we could have [in the eighties]—which means we didn’t go down as far as you can. We kept enough fuel for a longer journey, and we’re very much loving it. I’m very grateful that we didn’t burn out. I’m really happy with smaller, more intense audiences, [which] is exactly what we want at this stage in our lives. We’re very lucky.”
The Fixx will play their “FIXXmas” show at Sony Hall in New York City on December 14.